Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to clean things – only to watch great scenes of other people cleaning things.
By
Jeremy Cassar

11 Oct 2016 - 2:04 PM  UPDATED 11 Oct 2016 - 2:12 PM

Meeting its seasonal obligations, spring has taken hold. The birds are singing, the bees are (presumably) doing it, and there are now short sleeves as far as the eye can see. With spring also comes the supposed ritual of spring cleaning.

While watching an on-screen cleaning scene is less cathartic than a cleaning job well done, it does take far less actual physical effort and is far more memorable than actual real-life cleaning.

We've assembled a list of movies and TV shows that will offer you a newfound respect for the power of screen cleaning (not to be confused with cleaning screens).

The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1998)

Mum, can you buy me a pair of sponge shoes?

What sinister geniuses were the creators of this classic (to some) family film, when they concocted one of the catchiest songs to ever hit a pair of ears; a song that just happened to paint scrubbing the floor as the most enjoyable thing you haven’t done today.

Breaking Bad (2012)

While tempting to include Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) as he cleans up Jane’s apartment as if nobody had ever overdosed there, we have to go with the sexiest cleaning montage since…well…ever, from season 5A.

Walt, at his most morally deplorable, hides a cigarette containing the poison ricin in Jesse’s Roomba, then respects his own ruse by helping Pinkman clean every nook and cranny in the house, to the propulsive track ‘Stay on the outside’ by Whitey.

Requiem for a dream (2000)

Sometimes a scene is memorable for the wrong reasons. This technically inventive scene of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) discovering the abundance of energy that accompanies swallowing legal amphetamines diet pills.

Luckily, this is one of the least sea sickness-inducing of the film’s montages.

Over a decade later, and a Bradley Cooper scene from Limitless expanded on Requiem’s initial idea.

The Sopranos (2000)

During season two of this undisputed masterpiece (well, if it’s been disputed my ears probably closed over), Tony’s daughter Meadow hosts a house party that’d satisfy Corey Worthington in the empty house of her grandma, Olivia.

As expected from the young Meadow, she responds to her own mistake by blaming her best friend, a random dude, and basically avoiding responsibility like any child of a mob boss would.

So when said boss and father Tony turns up to the house for another reason and, through the window, catches Meadow dry-wretching while scrubbing someone else’s floor-board caked vomit, we can’t help but feel satisfied that she’s finally facing the mess head on.

Louie (2012)

Though the cleaning aspect is only a part of this brilliant season five moment where Louie damages the doll he’s bought for his daughter, the effort he puts into trying to restore the thing to its original aesthetics is a thing of frustrating beauty.

The more he tries to clean up the thing, the less the doll resembles its former self, but we walk away admiring the character for going to such lengths so as not to disappoint his kid. 

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)


No pathos or underlying significance here. It’s just Robin Williams, dressed as a woman, riffing on Risky Business and dancing up a storm with a vacuum cleaner as a partner.

Whatever you think of the actual film, it’s a classic bit of cinema that’s often included in fun film montages, and we don’t think that’ll change anytime soon.

Mary Poppins (1964)

No list about on-screen cleaning has ever existed is complete without Dame Julie Andrews’ slightly disturbing cleaning song ‘A spoonful of sugar’.

Way back when, it was pretty nifty how the flying nanny tidied up the room with the power of her mind. Watching it now and Mary’s basically a prim and proper version of that telekinetic teenager — Carrie.

Encino Man (1992)

Wheez the juice, Buuuuddy. If that sentence makes no sense to you then unfortunately you’ve never seen Samwise Gamgee and Paulie Shore bathe a clay-caked Brendan Fraser.

This very 80’s montage from the very 90’s film might lay on the cheese thickly, but in context there’s something strangely cathartic about seeing a caveman get a makeover.

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